Brazilian Butt Lift Guide: Frequently Asked Questions

Reviewed for medical accuracy by Dr. Constantino Mendieta in March 2016, and updated with additional notes regarding safety by Dr. Daniel Del Vecchio in October 2016.

The Brazilian butt lift (BBL) is an invasive procedure in which a surgeon takes a person’s own body fat from other areas and injects it into the buttocks. It is an increasingly popular procedure and continues to be one of the most-researched surgeries on RealSelf.

If you’re considering a BBL, you probably have many questions. We’ve asked RealSelf doctors experienced with the procedure to answer the most frequently asked questions.


In This Overview:

What Is a Brazilian Butt Lift?
Is It Right for Me?
How Much Does It Cost?
How Long Do the Results Last?
How Do I Choose a Surgeon?
How Much Fat Is Needed for a BBL?
What Happens During the Procedure?
What’s the Recovery Time?
What Are the Possible Side Effects?
Why Is There an Increased Chance for Injury or Death With BBLs?
What Else Is Important to Consider When Getting a BBL?
Can a BBL Be Reversed?
What Happens If I Gain Weight or Become Pregnant After a BBL?
What Else Do I Need to Know?


What Is a Brazilian Butt Lift?

A Brazilian butt lift is a butt augmentation procedure that uses liposuction to harvest fat from one or more areas of the body, and inject it into the butt cheeks and the outer hips. It can address a range of concerns, including flat or sagging buttocks, asymmetry, or other disproportions, sometimes due to massive weight loss. 

In contrast to butt implant surgery, which uses artificial implants to increase size and shape, many RealSelf community members prefer the Brazilian butt lift because of its natural approach. Back to top


Is a Brazilian Butt Lift Right for Me?

The most important factor in considering a BBL is your overall health. You have to be in good medical condition to be considered for any kind of cosmetic surgery. If you have any heart or lung conditions, or neurological disorders, you may not be a good candidate for a BBL. 

You should always consult with a doctor to determine if you are a good candidate for surgery. Ideal candidates are close to their ideal weight with enough fat that can be liposuctioned, such as the abdomen, love handles, back, and thighs. The skin in these areas also needs to have good elasticity to avoid sagging after liposuction. 

People who don’t have enough fat but are otherwise good candidates may be instructed to gain 10 to 20 pounds prior to surgery. “If I think the patient needs to add more fat, I recommend a new diet,” Dr. Constantino Mendieta said on RealSelf. “[I then] project a timetable for when they could expect to have their surgery.” (Read more Doctor answers to healthy fat gain to transfer in a BBL.) Back to top


How Much Does a Brazilian Butt Lift Cost?

While the average cost of a Brazilian butt lift is listed around $6,500 on RealSelf, the price can vary widely. Many factors can affect cost, including the number of areas being treated with liposuction, the surgeon’s level of experience, the geographic area where the procedure is performed, and any additional costs associated with surgical, operating room, anesthesia, or post-op appointment fees. As with any cosmetic procedure, price should not be the primary factor in choosing your doctor. Back to top


How Long Do Brazilian Butt Lift Results Last?

Dr. Mendieta says to expect roughly 60% of the injected fat to the stay in the area. The rest will be reabsorbed by the body and naturally eliminated. “The great thing about the Brazilian butt lift surgery is that the fat cells that survive the transfer will live in their new location forever,” he said in a Doctor Q&A on how long results last. 

However, it’s important to remember that these fat cells will behave like the rest of the fat in your body and be susceptible to weight fluctuations. To have the highest chance of long-lasting results, be prepared to maintain your weight after your procedure rather than lose it. Back to top


How Do I Choose a Surgeon for a Brazilian Butt Lift?

As with any elective procedure, the most important factor in choosing a doctor is experience. While any plastic surgeon can legally offer BBLs, you want a doctor who frequently performs the procedure and has proven safe results. It’s also recommended to have multiple consultations before selecting a surgeon.

Increased concerns about BBL safety, especially due to recent reports of injuries and even death, have some doctors recommending that patients be even more diligent when it comes to researching and selecting a doctor. In addition to seeking out an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Daniel Del Vecchio recommends asking your doctor these three questions:

  1. Have you had a death?
  2. How many BBL procedures have you done? 
  3. What is it about your technique that makes it safe?

“I think these three questions are going to at least help drive the conversation,” Dr. Del Vecchio said. “If he/she hasn’t had a death, and they’ve done 1,000 cases, by definition, their technique is probably good.”

Dr. Armando Soto offers this checklist to help you determine if a doctor is right for you. 

  • Make sure a doctor is certified by checking with The American Board of Plastic Surgery
  • Membership in the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery also means that he/she has completed all necessary requirements for membership in these professional organizations, and in the case of the latter group, that the surgeon does a minimum number of aesthetic procedures a year. 
  • Ask where the procedure will be performed. Many surgeons are able to perform your procedure in a surgery center or office facility. Make sure the facility is accredited by American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities or another similar nationally recognized body. 
  • Ask about the other people who will be involved in your care. The nurses, anesthesia providers, and other ancillary personnel can have a large impact on your experience. Make sure they are qualified and pleasant people. 
  • Ask to see photos of your surgeon's work, and maybe even to speak to a few former patients. Ask how many of these procedures they have done, and how frequently they do them. This is a great way to get a better understanding of what you might experience from start to finish. There are lots of patients who love their surgeon after the consultation. Those who still love their surgeon after all is said and done are the ones who chose the best surgeon for their needs.

If you’re looking for a licensed and qualified plastic surgeon to perform your Brazilian butt lift, use the RealSelf Doctor Finder. Back to top


How Much Fat Is Needed for a Brazilian Butt Lift?

The amount of fat harvested and injected into the buttocks is measured in cubic centimeters, or cc. “The exact amount of CCs needed depends on you,” said Dr. Mendieta in a RealSelf Doctor Q&A. “The BBL is a very personal and beautiful augmentation when it is performed specifically to your dimensions.” 

If a patient does not have enough fat to get the results they want, they may need to gain 10 to 20 pounds prior to surgery. Back to top


What Happens During a Brazilian Butt Lift Procedure?

Brazilian butt lift techniques can vary among surgeons, but the process always happens in three stages: harvesting, processing, and reinjection. 

First, body fat is extracted by liposuction from the pre-determined areas. Common locations include the back (directly above the butt), stomach, and thighs. The extracted fat is then processed through centrifugation. Once purified, only the best donor fat cells will be reinjected into the butt. This may be done through hundreds of tiny microinjections at various depths. Read more about this process in our liposuction guide. Back to top


What’s the Recovery Time for a Brazilian Butt Lift?

While recovery time will vary depending on the patient, RealSelf doctors recommend you avoid sitting directly on your butt for at least two weeks. After that, you may want to sit on a boppy pillow, which allows you put pressure on the thighs instead of the butt. You will also be asked to wear a compression garment for up to six weeks to decrease bruising and swelling while helping loose skin retract.

“I generally tell my patients that they may return to work in 10 to 14 days after a Brazilian butt lift,” Dr. Moises Salama said in a RealSelf Doctor Q&A on BBL Recovery. “General swelling make take six to eight weeks to improve, but the inflammation from the liposuction can last several months.”

It’s generally recommended that rigorous exercise be avoided for about a month. However, your doctor may suggest some light-impact movement like stretching and walking. Post-op requirements also vary from person to person. It’s important to follow your doctor’s specific instructions to achieve the best results. Back to top


What Are the Possible Side Effects and Complications?

If performed by an experienced plastic surgeon, the Brazilian butt lift procedure has a high success rate. However, as with any cosmetic procedure, it is not without risk. 

Common side effects include bruising, swelling, pain, irregular contour, asymmetry, infection, and loss of fat due to not following post-op instructions. 

Recently, more serious effects related to BBLs have raised concern among doctors, including the possibility of injury and even death. The Aesthetic Surgery Education and Research Foundation (ASERF) has formed a Gluteal Fat Grafting Task Force due to “a connection between the recent popularity of gluteal fat grafting and high mortality rates in patients who elect this surgery.” According to the ASERF release, the organization is currently investigating those risks and will issue a report soon. Back to top


Why Is There an Increased Chance for Injury or Death With BBLs?

Doctors familiar with BBLs already have some preliminary ideas of why the surgery can be dangerous.

“It’s a good procedure, but it needs a better technique,” Dr. Del Vecchio said. “A lot has to do with knowing where the veins are. The other half is knowing where the tip of the cannula is.”

Dr. Del Vecchio, Dr. Simeon Wall Jr., and Dr. Mendieta have issued a joint release that stated the “importance of proper instrumentation, technique, and surgical training” as being the three key factors every patient should ask of their doctor.

According to the doctors’ joint statement: “All the cases of deaths from gluteal fat grafting have involved syringe-based techniques and smaller injection needles that, according to Del Vecchio, ‘have the potential to cause physician fatigue and needle misguidance into deeper structures, leading to fatal fat embolus.’”

Dr. Del Vecchio and Dr. Wall also said that they have developed a “much more efficient, faster, and safer” alternative method, and they hope to publish those results soon.

Additionally, ASERF’s Task Force has made the “preliminary conclusion that the rate of fat embolism may be increased substantially by injecting into the deep muscle as opposed to injecting into the subcutaneous tissue and superficial muscle.”

We will update this guide with important safety information as it is released. Back to top


What Else Is Important to Consider When Getting a BBL?

“In general, and this does not only apply to BBL, I think a lot of women get excited about tummy tucks and BBL,” Dr. Del Vecchio said. “It can tempting to get the butt done and tummy tuck at the same time. Combination operations can be a big problem with BBL. It is a big operation already, and people underestimate the operation and how difficult it is.”

Dr. Del Vecchio also recommends patients with anemia take iron and have a healthy blood count before a major operation. Additionally, because patients often travel great distances for a BBL, he says they need to be aware of how long they need to stay for a proper rest and recovery period after the surgery. Back to top


Can a Brazilian Butt Lift Be Reversed?

While a BBL is considered a permanent procedure, revisions can be made. “Some of the transferred fat can be easily removed using liposuction,” said Dr. Mats Hagstrom in a RealSelf Doctor Q&A on butt augmentation reversal. 

Fat can also be added to correct asymmetries or increase results. As with the first round of the procedure, the ability to do so is dependent on how much fat you have to harvest. Back to top


What Happens If I Gain Weight or Become Pregnant After a BBL?

Weight Gain: Once fat has been moved from another area of your body to your butt, these fat cells can grow or shrink like any other fat on your body, so your butt could get larger if you gain weight. You might gain weight in the areas that were treated with liposuction, and you may even gain weight in places you didn’t before. It’s essential to maintain your ideal weight following the procedure.

Pregnancy: If you’re planning on getting pregnant in the near future, Dr. Andrew Jimerson advised waiting until after giving birth in a RealSelf Doctor Q&A on BBL before or after pregnancy. But if you’re planning on having kids several years down the road, he “doesn’t see why you can’t have a BBL now. Neither liposuction nor fat transfer will affect your fertility, and those surgeries do not pose a risk to future pregnancies.”

People handle pregnancy differently, and there’s no way to know how or where you’ll gain weight while pregnant. There’s also no way to know how you’re going to look after you give birth. Those who have gotten pregnant after a BBL may desire a touch-up or another procedure, such as a mommy makeover. Back to top


What Else Do I Need to Know?


Why Would I Get a BBL Instead of Butt Implants?

The primary deciding factor is how much fat you have to work with. Most RealSelf doctors prefer BBLs over implants because fat can be shaped more precisely and placed in the areas that need it. Implants are typically only considered for patients who don’t have enough fat and have difficulty gaining weight.


Will I Have a Scar?

BBLs involve harvesting fat with liposuction using small tubes called cannulas. These cannulas are inserted through incisions less than a centimeter wide. Just like scarring from any other type of injury, these incisions will go through a maturation process, likely over up to a year.

“For the first few months, the scars will be red and possibly raised and/or firm,” said Dr. Larry Nichter in a RealSelf Doctor Q&A on Smart Lipo scars. “As the scar matures, it becomes soft, pale, flat, and much less noticeable. Some people are prone to hypertrophic scars or keloids, which are abnormal scars that become prominent. If you or a blood relative have a tendency for these types of scars, please inform your doctor.”

Your plastic surgeon may suggest a scar lightening cream, silicone scar sheets, laser treatments, or injections to further minimize the appearance. Use sunscreen and avoid any prolonged exposure to the sun for at least two months, as UV rays can darken the appearance of scars.


Are Massages Necessary After a Brazilian Butt Lift?

Most RealSelf doctors recommend lymphatic drainage massage following a BBL, as it can significantly help decrease bruising and swelling.

Dr. Mendieta recommends starting these a few weeks after your procedure, “but there are many mitigating factors, [including] the status of your recovery, the blood flow post-BBL, and other personal factors that make you and your BBL unique,” he said in Doctor Q&A on massage after BBL surgery.

What’s most important is choosing a qualified plastic surgeon who specializes in Brazilian butt lifts, and closely following his/her post-procedure instructions.

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Have a question we didn't answer in this guide? Post it in the comments below or ask an expert plastic surgeon.

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This guide has been medically reviewed for accuracy by board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Constantino Mendieta. Dr. Mendieta completed his undergrad and medical school education at Creighton University. Additionally, he completed residencies at Maricopa County Hospital in Arizona and Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, as well as a fellowship at the Royal College of Surgery in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Consumer Research Council in America has named Dr. Mendieta one of the country’s Top Surgeons for five years in a row. 

Disclaimer: This content is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare professional. Your reliance on any information or content provided in the guide is solely at your own risk. You should always seek the advice of your physician or healthcare professional for any questions you have about your own medical condition. RealSelf does not endorse or recommend any specific content, procedure, product, opinion, healthcare professional or any other material or information in this guide or anywhere on this website.

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